Kharma Midi vs. Sonus Faber Stradivari Amati

In the next few days I have to decide between Sonus Faber Stradivari (or Amati Anniversario) and Kharma Midi Exquisite. I have heard Sonus in my room and know exactly what they can do there. I loved musicality of SF, yet I have read rave reviews on Kharma. If anyone has listened to both of them and would like to graciously contribute some thoughts, it would help me a great deal.
I'm mainly curious if I would lose that musical aspect of presentation that is easily available with SF.
*I would definitely choose Stradivari over Amati.

*"Musical" presentation: difficult point. What do you mean by "musical"?
IF, on the warm side of neutral, yes the Strads could be that vs the Kharma -- remember the drive units on the Kharma are hard-coned (ceramic) while the Strads' Audio technology & Scans are softer-coned. In theory, the Kharma unit should distort less than the Strad unit; in practise the Strad's drive unit is excellent... In theory, the Kharma should be somewhat more detailed and strident. In practise it sounds just fine and the Strad reproduces just as much detail...

Really, Treemed, if you like the Strads just go for it. If you wait too long, you'll find another rare review for another rave product printed soon :^) Even more confusing!
did you listen the Anniversarios?

have a nice weekend.
did you listen the Anniversarios
Yes -- but only briefly at a dealer. Powered by YBA Passion (the small stereo).
They seemed to have a leaner lower midrange than their homage brothers (i.e. truer, more realistic -- I don't mean lacking). Also seemed to be more extended on either end of the spectrum (esp. low end) with more articulation. The mid driver is probably a Audio technology & the tweet a Scan; the homage have a scan mid & vifa tweet, I think.

It looks very good, as you'd expect. I listened to classical on it.
I think Greg hit the nail on the head. I've heard both (I owned the Midi Equisites), and I thought the Stradivari was more musically engaging. The Kharma, IMO, is much more hifi-ish in its presentation. It's more extended on top, and the bass is a little faster, but that diamond tweeter can sound a little strident at times. If you want to enjoy every single recording you have--good, bad, or ugly--go with the Stradivari. If you want to eke out the last iota of detail from your recordings, and want the ultimate in transparency, then maybe the Kharma is a better fit. Depends entirely on your priorities. Both are world-class.
If you had the Strads in your system and loved what they do, if it were me, I'd go with them as they are a proven commodity. As a Kharma owner, (the big Exquisites 1 D.E-ds - not the Midis), I obviously like my Kharmas. However, I have heard the Strads and they were wonderful. Hooper and I are buddies who agree to disagree - that is, I don't think Kharmas are "hifi-ish" in any way. I also don't agree that the diamond tweeter is strident at all - rather, it needs to be fed good amplification to take advantage of its incredible resolution and frequency extension.

However, I have heard the Midis a number of times with the same associated gear I use and, at least TO ME, the Midis didn't sound as good as every one claims they do. I listened to them extensively one weekend and then compared them to my bigger Exauisites and it wasn't even close IMHO. The Midis sounded closed in, veiled, small and unexciting compared to the big Exquisites.

Just my $.02 FWIW.
Fmpnd is right about the Kharma's diamond tweeter. It's not really strident per se, but it definitely needs the right amplification. In his system, it sounded extremely good, but I've heard it other systems--particularly with solid-state amplification--where it did indeed sound strident. As for the Midi, I owned it and sold it pretty quickly. As Fmpnd indicated, it sounded lifeless and closed-in.
Thank you all!!! These are some of the most useful comments and advise I ever got.
Of course I know it would be the best to have speakers at home and audition, but there is no dealer in Chicago area and I don't know anyone who owns them. I listened to Stradivari at my home and loved them. They were just a tiny bit too much in the low end, and imaging was not as impressive as my current Audio Physic Caldera. But musicality was there. Anniversario with a bit smaller woofers and narrow design might be a perfect fit.

I fell in love with Sonus Faber sound 10 years ago when I heard Extrema. I owned it for three months, and it was the most musical sound I had a chance to listen to, up until that point. I can't explain what I mean by "musical." I'm first a musician in my soul and then, a distant second, an audiophile.
When Michael Fremer wrote in Stereophile review of Strad:
"It was, however, the most emotionally communicative speaker I've ever heard. Can a speaker have "soul"? I don't know, but this one comes the closest to making me think so."

That's exactly what I feel... that the Strad elicited certain level of pleasure response in my soul comparable only to playing a live instrument. Well, it's not exactly there, but it's closest to it. And I don't think you can label it "euphonic." Strad was creating comparable effect to what very good single-ended amp can do. Most SE amps are way too euphonic to me. I couldn't stand Cary Audio 805's, just way too syrupy. But there are good SE amps that don't do that, and still illuminate the music in a unique way.

So, what was the purpose of my post? I don't change my gear every few months. I would like to get set for years to come, so I was just wondering if Kharma conveyed similar level of emotional, musical soulfulness as SF, and at the same time bringing greater coherence than the Strad. But that doesn't seem to be the case, at least with Midi, according to your comments.

Gregm: When you say: "I would definitely choose Stradivari over Amati"... Did you listen to old Amati or new Amati Anniversario, and was it in the same room where you heard Stradivari? Can you expand a bit as to why you preferred Amati over Strad?
"Yes -- but only briefly at a dealer"

Anniversario is a new speaker I don't think your findings are the right ones for now. The speaker needs a burn-in and as a new model some time to integrate with different equipment.IMHO.
Did you listen to old Amati or new Amati Anniversario, and was it in the same room where you heard Stradivari
The new model and the same room. Actually didn't find the Anni particularly fussy to set up. The Strads were a bit more complicated to set up(for me at least). Whenever I got the midbass coupling right, my upper mids-tweet would be out of focus; when I got the tweet + bass units coupling, my midbass was off... etc:^)

Kops: dunno about break/burn in. The spkrs I listened to weren't out of a box -- but as you say, maybe they needed more time? They sounded very good to me, in any case.

Why the Strads: because I often listen to large orchestral pieces and the Strad reproduced these with more ease, i.e. more palpably. But that's just me & my musical tastes.
Gregg, Ghanks for that clarification. I had Strads in my room for almost a week, and they were awesome, and I agree with you, on orchestral work they are great. But I find the same thing with integration, it was just a bit out of sync bass vs mid/tweeter. I thought it was just my room. If Anniversario is somewhat close to Strad on orchestral work, plus if they got coherence right, they will be my cup of tea. One poster (Branimir) owns Anniversario andn claims is better sounding than Strad.
I didn't listen to Anniversaio yet, but Strad is aboslutely magical in musical communication.
If you ever have a chance to listen again to those two, I would be curious to hear your further impression.
Treemed67-My opinion is based on the fact that I live with Anniversario's and were able to listen Strad for days(in lenght-more than one month since good friend of mine owns them). To my ears and for my taste Anni is better then Strad. But, that's me! You may choose Strad over Anni, both are excellent speakers, IMO.
'Briefly' listening at dealers room? Is that enough for opinion? I think not but, again, that's my opinion. In this price class in-home auditioning is a must!
Happy listening!
Actually I've to listened the Strads (alone) on a few occasions lately.

Generally speaking please note that WE have to place/"integrate" the two spkrs correctly, it's not really the spkrs that "integrate" (for well designed products of course).
Now the tricky thing was: I found a reasonable position fm the back wall (just listening to musical bass freq) and used the usual fibonacci to indicate "optimum" distance fm side walls. Fine. THEN the fun started: ONE speaker (left as it happens) remained in place after we tried mono signal and simply decided that left sounded better than right. THEN, I started moving the other spkr closer (by Generally speaking again, since we're dealing with an aural "pyramid" (reference to visual pyramids in renaissance painting; think of viewfinder focus in older cameras), hi-liting a freq on the right channel can make s/thing on the left channel stand out. If your bass is "insufficient" it may be that you need more OR that the upper-mid is TOO prominent...
If your image swerves toward the left channel, touch the right spkrs and of that doesn't work, try corecting the left spkr (amazingly, moving it forward sometimes)...

Coming back to the Strads, it just a matter of getting used to the wider than usual baffle in "marrying" the two spkrs.

Brani, old sport, if I ever buy SF I promise I will favour the Anni over the Strads:^)
"Briefly at a dealers" -- you are correctly assuming that it's too short to judge. But, you see, the dealer's room is excellent (with acoustic treatment) & I spent a very pleasant Sat a/noon listening to music, talking, laughing and drinking (of course). That's "briefly".

But seriously, I listen to orchestral music. "Large" orchs count 120-160 people. Add choir sometimes. Hence, I would opt for a spkr that at least tries to simulate the sheer volume involved. BUT IF I listened primarily to jazz, blues, small ensembles (just to name a few options I personally like) I would NOT buy the "bigger" spkr -- even if it played "my" music 5% better than a smaller and/or cheaper alternative. It's not worth it for me. Of course I may have found it played preferred music "better". Deal!

I'm not suggesting you did that; I'm just relating what I would do and, thereby, why I say what I do.
Maybe I'm too old to have much pride of ownership in these matters:). Cheers
Greg, Regarding orchestral music you are right. But, room size,other gear in system, etc. are also important issue.
My friend bought Strad based on same findings as yours.
I heard Strad in a smaller room and it overpowered it easy in midbass.
Just out of pure curiosity-what speakers do you have(and rest of the system)?
Branimir I can well imagine a small room w/out treatment would invariably excacerbate those Audio technology units the Strads are using. Even with treatment, one probably wouldn't be able to keep the spkrs spaced out enough to clear the sound...

As to what I'm using at the moment:
Spkrs: I have Genesis, open baffle (2way+1), & single driver spkrs (i.e. 3pairs). All of these are paired to separately powered bass/low-bass units ("+1"). I use 1 Bass unit per channel, open baffle, two drive units/channel. The Genesis have their own servo units & bass amp.
I use no real "sub" woofer, I cut @ ~25 Hz.

-Amps: main amp is a Symphonic Line class A"Kraft" Stereo. For the lower freq (i.e. to ~80Hz) I use a stereo Vincent something or other 150/channel (cheapo) or an old Pass (expensive and on loan).
-No preamp: I use a transformer volume control (Stevens & Billington) and relay source switching.
-Phono (Riaa) is a big Clearaudio, can't remember what they call it.
-Cdp: a Symphonic Line "Reference"
-Analogue: Simon Yorke TT/Pluto arm, Clearaudio Discovery and old Ortofon 3000 cartridges.
-Old analogue Nad tuner.
-Multiplayer: a Philips 963 modded
-Stands, bases, supports, wires, are all made by me. Alternative wires are Nordost "Valhalla" (spkr & IC) and a "Valkyrie" or s/thing, IC.
BTW, the room is reasonably sized @ ~45m2.

FWIW, I auditioned both extensively with the same electronics (Goldmund) in the same room...They're both fantastics, but ultimately I selected the Kharmas, for two reasons...

1) IMO, the Midis are much more room friendly. You have alot less to do to get them sounding right in most rooms.

2) IMO, the Strads appeared to colour music a little more than the Midis do. Things sound richer than in real-life (though in a pleasing way of course ;)

Ultimately, IMHO, theres no right or wrong choosing between these. Just a matter of your personal taste perference.

Regarding the various other comments about the Midis above... make sure you're auditioning a well burned-in unit, a pair that has at least about 4 months of daily use on them... otherwise you're not truly hearing what these speakers are capable of (probably true of most speakers, but the Midis especially because of their 2 Nomex Kevlar bass drivers requiring lots of time to loosen up).

IMHO, they're far from uninvolving and strident and among the most neutral/realistic sounding speakers around. Definitely agree that they need good amplification (I've got them paired with a Boulder 2060).
Thanks for your answer. It helps to hear it from someone who listened to both of them under the same conditions, in the same room.
I see there are opinions swinging both ways, toward Kharma, others liking more Stradivari. But what's interesting even if Kharma Midi's were more reflecting your taste, you didn't feel that Midi smoked Sonus Faber big time. You felt it was just a preference of sound, not a great gap in their accomplishments... if I understood you correctly. Since Midi's are twice as expensive as Stradivari, it's a huge statement. It may point out how reasonably priced Sonus Faber speakers are, or that Kharma's are outrageously expensive. What the truth is, is hard to say for someone not involved in this business.

Yes, you understood me correctly :-)

That said, IMO, the actual street price of the Midis reflect its value more accurately...

(Hint: Look at the 2nd hand prices of both... uplift from there to guage what their best street price might be ;-)
Treemed67, when I heard the Andra, in my room, they were
spectacular.I still went out and bring more speakers for
auditioned,no one can beat the Andra,I realise the Andra
are perfect in my room,So I went for the Andra.I am extremely happy.I agree with Fmpnd.
I own the stradivaris since a month even not fully burnedinn i love them very musical great tunefull bass midhighs to die for...
I have listened to the midi exquisites diferent times whit lamm se and tenor hybrid amps and all i can say that this are also great speakers they do everything very good!
I personaly dont think that one or the other is beter i woudt choose the stradivari first for my taste but it may be oposite yours.I can live whit both hapily both are some of the best in the market.
congratulations ertugrul, what are your electronics?
Stadivari is a top speaker and in a few days we'll see it's little brother Sonus Faber Elipsa.
Aside from shows, I have heard Kharma speakers in two home systems. In both instances I did not like the sound at all -- a strange combination of dry, antiseptic sound and dynamic lifelessness (i.e., poor microdynamics at lower listening levels). But, because I did not have anything to do with the setup, I cannot say it was the speakers.

I know someone who traded a Kharma (cannot recall which model) for the Anniversario and is very happy with the trade. Another friend has a pair which I have listened to quite extensively. It is a very musical sounding speaker. Another friend has the Stadivari, and it too, is very nice sounding. Given that the Kharma speakers I heard and the SF speakers sound so fundamentally different, I think you have to hear the Kharmas before making a purchasing decision.
Larryi sez
(Having) heard Kharma speakers in two home systems (the result was) a strange combination of dry, antiseptic sound and dynamic lifelessness
Actually, my experience in a nutshell with all but the "Grand" with the diamond THiel & partner whistle on it. This one excelled: music for spectrum analysers.

I'm sure there's more to these spkrs than this. But the sound was uncannily like what Larryi notes above.
When it comes to Kharma's,the partnering amp is ALL important.The Lamm's,by far,are the best I have heard on them(I do not own Kharma).This combo really IS superb,but you really have to be careful.I'm not wild about the Kharma amps,but that is only my opinion,which means "nada"!Don't rush to judgement,too soon.They can be superb,like so many other fine designs.
Hi Kops thanks.My electronics are tenor hp300 monos,firstsound pre,kondo ksl dac,cec tlox transport.What are yours?Is the new sonus faber elipsa the same design as stradivari in a smaler way?
Ertugrul yes the new Elipsa is a smaller Stradivari in shape and the colour of Cremona. Different tweeter, different midrange-a new one with paper and wood fibers exclusively for Sonus for one year and one woofer exactly the same as Strads.

My electronics are from Plinius and Cary but are in transition for something more powerfull.
Definitely,i'll go with the Stradivari.i own those speakers since 4 months and after a careful listening to the Kharma the Magico m5 and the Wilson W/P 8.
the Stradivari replaced a Meridian DSP6000.